Proving the Will of God
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
In chapter 12 of Romans we move from the expounding of the gospel and several important doctrinal considerations to the practical applications of our faith. The first 2 verses deal specifically with obedience and holy living and especially in considering the will of God.
The whole idea of “God’s will” has become something of a mystery and regarded as almost unknowable in certain areas of Christendom [or at least that has been my experience for the past 24 years].
Given the wholesale departure from sound doctrine, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Given the level of biblical illiteracy this also shouldn’t be a surprise. Given the fact that the word of God is no longer the final authority in the majority of believers, it shouldn’t be a surprise.
[Having spent too many years in liberal churches] I remember one pastor claiming that he prayed to be in the centre of God’s will and his whole world turned upside down. We were cautiously advised that we might do the same; I fail to see how this would encourage a congregation. Needless to say the congregation was less than enlightened by the distinct lack of sound teaching on such an important subject.
It doesn’t help when you hear preachers boasting from the pulpit that “God told me this and God told me that”; it leaves you with the impression that knowing the will of God is only accessible to an esoteric few. When I hear the words “God told me” it turns my stomach and I don’t know whether to pull my hair out or rend my garments and cry blasphemy.
More frightening still, is that people are encouraged to listen for a “still quiet voice”; I say frightening because nowhere in the bible are we instructed to seek God in this way. The reference is of course to Elijah and his experience after running from Jezebel. This was a one-time event and to build a doctrine on this account is insane.
In many ways this is in effect saying “listen to your heart”; we know that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We know that it was Solomon who, having his heart turned away from the Lord, communed it’s his own heart in his quest for answers to the meaning of life.
This is why if if someone asks the question, “do we listen to the heart or the head”, the answer must be neither. Every decision we make in life MUST be filtered through the word of God.
Worse still is the twisting of Proverbs 3:5
The biblical exhortation of “leaning not on your own understanding” has become a licence for accepting the bizarre. In other words if something out of the ordinary happens [especially if I don’t understand it] MUST be the will of God because I couldn’t possibly think this up myself.
The combined effect of all these examples of poor teaching, leaves the ignorant believer at the mercy of his own vain imaginations.
Sadly this is where the church is headed; embracing New Age practices and replacing religious piety and true devotion to God with mysticism. In turning away from the word of God [and in particular the authority of the word of God], they must seek an alternative; and this to embrace signs, wonders and miracles [especially so-called prophetic words]. And this is not to mention the WORD of Faith Movement which has done much damage to professing believers.
Jesus is the light of the world and promises that those who have believed on him should never walk in darkness, yet there are so many Christians stumbling around in the dark.
Despite this we are blessed to attend a biblical church and to know more of the scriptures than the so-called scholars.
In todays’s text the scripture clearly states “that ye may prove”, implying that our actions and the circumstances of our lives are able to be proved or tested:
TESTED AGAINST BIBLICAL TRUTH .
Proving the Will of God Through Submission:
“that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,…”
[This is an act of submission]
Submission demonstrated through sacrifice:
The text gives us this picture of a sacrifice; the sacrificial system [of course] ended with Christ… yet scripture exhorts us to present our bodies a living sacrifice.
Remember that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit:
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
In the Old Testament we see a number of different offerings or sacrifices described: one such offering is the “thanks-giving offering”. This was a free will offering dedicated to the Lord. It was given on the basis of gratitude for blessings received; this gratitude must here be seen in the light of our salvation.
Following the will of God began [of course] at salvation:
Jesus says in Matthew chapter 7:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21
Our first act of obedience is to obey the gospel. That is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. That is the will of God for all mankind.
But the ultimate demonstration of our submission to God is to present our entire lives to him. [As we see it described here: As if presenting “a sacrifice”.]
In the Old Testament the sacrifice was bound to the altar with cords; the thing that should bind us to Christ is our love for him.
Unlike the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament which were dead [and therefore do not have a choice of whether they remain on the altar]; we are living beings and do have a choice of whether we willingly submit to God.
It is only when we reckon ourselves DEAD TO SIN that we can fully live for God. It’s for this reason that the apostle Paul says “I die daily”. How else could anyone endure the things he did unless he completely died to himself and submitted to the will of God.
Paul in the book of Galatians goes deeper in explaining this “sacrificial life” in 44 words that sum up the Christian life:
As we identify ourselves with Christ and his death on the cross [he says]:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
Submission demonstrated through service: “holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service …”
This picture would be lost on us if we didn’t understand the Old Testament. In presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice; we present ourselves holy and acceptable to God. Just as those offerings in the Old Testament were considered holy and were to be without blemish in order to be accepted by God; likewise we being made holy through Christ’s blood we are to present ourselves to God.
[We shouldn’t take this for granted]
We know that if Jesus’ death [he who knew no sin] wasn’t accepted by the Father, he would not have been raised from the dead.
In regards to serving God Jesus gives us a clear mandate
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Serving God is a choice and when we choose not to serve him [as hard as it might be to admit] by default we hate him [and serve ourselves and worse still the devil]. Make no mistake: friendship with the world is enmity with God.
With regards to serving God:
Again if we look at the Old Testament, the man who had fallen into debt could sell himself to another and work off that debt for a period of 7 years. If at the end of that 7 years the man decided that he loved his master, he could choose to stay with him forever.
In an economic sense, the degree of service is proportional to the debt incurred.When we realize the debt of sin incurred and the infinite riches of God’s grace to forgive us that debt; is it any wonder it is considered “our reasonable service”.
When it comes to our motivation for loving him, Jesus puts it plainly [in reference to a certain woman who came to him for forgiveness]: “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” Luke 7:47
Our obedience and service to God is not only a reflection of our love for him but also an understanding of the degree with which he loved us.
I’m not suggesting that we earn our salvation. But rather our motivation for serving the Lord has to be founded on our realization of our previous sin debt.
Earlier in Romans 6:13 this fact of presenting ourselves for service is perfectly summed up.
“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield [yield is another word for submit]yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” Romans 6:13
The reality is that we have NOTHING to lose and everything to gain…because we were already lost…dead: DEAD IN OUR SINS.
Living a holy life might be considered our reasonable service; but what we also need to keep in mind is that it is compensated with a completely unreasonable reward. By this I don’t mean unfair; on the contrary: we deserved hell and now receive an infinitely greater blessing.
In the Old Testament the Levites weren’t given an inheritance of land. In return for their service to the Lord they were given a portion of the sacrifices made by the people:
“And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.” Numbers 18:20
Being made priests [through the gospel]; as we serve the Lord faithfully we will receive an eternal reward, which is the Lord himself. The greater our service, the greater the value of our reward: both actual and perceived. And the greater the value we place on our relationship with the Lord, the greater our desire will be to serve him.
Underpinning all of this:
The text reminds us that submission is a demonstration of reciprocated love: “by the mercies of God…” as we read.
It is because of the mercy which has been extended to us that we are exhorted to submit ourselves willingly to God. The bible [also] clearly states that our love for God is purely motivated and founded the basis of his love for us: HE LOVED US FIRST
If we genuinely love God, we should also have a desire to submit to and serve him. Jesus says plainly: if you love me you will keep my commandments [Not just the 10 commandments but everything that his word instructs us to do]. The bible teaches [in Ecclesiastes 12:13] to fear God and keep his commandments.
You can’t separate these 2 principles of love and fear.
Nor should you because they are both equally taught in scripture.
The greater the fear of God, the less is our fear of man.
The greater our fear of God, the greater is the likelihood of demonstrating our love for God [and the greater our experience of the love of God]
One thing which is sadly missing in the modern church is a proper fear of God. And it’s no wonder as the church begins to imitate the world and its values.
The fear of God is a critical factor in discerning the will of God and is an indication of our submission to him:
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18
When there is a demonstrated lack of godly fear, the individual has a complete disregard for the boundaries which God has put in place. Since the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, [without it] the likelihood of genuinely seeking God and his will for your life is zero.
There is no question: The heart that understands all of the above and continues in submission to God is in the perfect condition to fulfill God’s will in his life.
If humility is key to seeking the will of God for our lives then there are also certain attitudes that hinder the will of God.
Among these is stubbornness and pride. We have two prime examples in scripture; that of the children of Israel who were frequently referred to as stiff-necked. We also have the example of king Saul in the Old Testament; who when he disobeyed God was told that stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Proving the Will of God Through Separation:
“…And be not conformed to this world:…”
When we talk about biblical separation we’re not talking about a monastic existence; locking ourselves away from the world and its influences. Jesus himself said that even though we are in the world and not of it; it isn’t God’s desire that we should be physically removed from it.
Even though we know this [that we aren’t to conform], it’s good to be reminded.
One thing the text indicates is that there is an ACTIVE force which seeks to change an individual to its way of thinking and behaving. This also suggests that unless we are actively resisting its influence…we WILL succumb.
Make no mistake, the world wants us to conform to its ideas and philosophies; if it was true in Paul’s day it is even more so now. The pressure to conform is HUGE.
The apostle Peter identifies this:
“Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:” 1 Peter 4:4
At times the influences are subtle but they’re there [and not just in our immediate circle of influence]:
You’ll find them in the media and popular music. And you’ll find them on television and in magazines, billboards…
In order for us to maintain our integrity and purity as believers we need to make a deliberate effort not to live as the world lives; another obvious fact I know. Nevertheless, Paul makes the same point to the Ephesian Church.
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,” Ephesians 4:17
He calls this kind of living: vanity of the mind. Biblically speaking, vanity means futile and worthless [there is no value or profit in it]. The bible describes vanity as being utterly repugnant and totally undesirable. If leprosy is a picture of sin and its repulsiveness, then you need to know that if you are given to vain thoughts: it must be dealt with.
David in Psalm 119 says emphatically:
“I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.” Psalms 119:113
Being separated unto God, starts with our thinking [we’ll cover this more in our next point]; that’s why we need to be SOBER minded; [walking circumspectly] wise and not foolish.
As in the previous point I stated that we are to present ourselves holy before God [as a living sacrifice]; just as the priest offered those sacrifices UNSPOTTED and WITHOUT BLEMISH.
In order to achieve this we must live separated lives and not be influenced by the world and its ways.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
The word yoke means to be joined. If you can imaging two animals of unequal strength joined to each other and ploughing a field. Suppose that you are the weaker animal. Under these circumstances you will naturally be forced out of your normal rhythm [we ought to be in step with the Holy Spirit]. We also get this picture of being dragged away…away from the Lord instead of walking with him.
In separating or disassociating ourselves from the world:
We separate ourselves from these things specifically [remember they’re polar opposites]:
We separate ourselves from the sin of the world [righteousness versus unrighteousness]
“..Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 2 Timothy 2:19
We separate ourselves from the wisdom of this world [light versus darkness]
“This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” James 3:15
We separate ourselves from the ruler of this world [Belial versus Christ]
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
We separate ourselves from the unbelief of this world [believer versus infidel]
“While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” Hebrews 3:15
We separate ourselves from the worship of this world [God versus idols]
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
In fighting against the forces of evil, our weapon of choice must be the word of God.
Sadly most Christians today don’t know whose camp they are in [you can’t have a foot in both]. They have very little idea about biblical separation [especially separation from apostasy].
And as a consequence are in NO position to prove or test the will of God for their lives [and in the case of pastors and churches; the lives of the congregation]. They blindly take them in directions that are antithetical to the gospel and what the bible teaches.
Submission and separation is a choice; the Lord certainly doesn’t force us.
On the one hand you will be assured of a miserable life [there is no joy in grieving the Holy Spirit every day]. On the other hand it is an easier life; you’ll never have to stand up for your convictions and you’ll never be in danger of losing your old friends.
Far too many Christians are still in love with this world [I was one of them].
[Turn to 1 John 2:15-17]
This is a familiar passage but it highlights the things that characterize the world and its ways:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
1 John 2:15-17
Love for God and love for the world CANNOT coexist. The things described in this passage are not of God and are contrary to his will.
The pride of life is is best defined as self-will rather than God’s will. We know that the god of this world [before he fell] was perfect in his ways until iniquity was found in him and pride rose in his heart.
Five times in Isaiah chapter 14:13-14 we see the phrase [as spoken by Lucifer]: “I WILL”.
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:13-14
We need to be mindful of this [listen to ourselves when we speak] and not fall into the temptation of satisfying our own desires. When we turn aside from sound biblical principles and from following the Lord with our WHOLE heart, ultimately we are turning to vain things which cannot profit.
Worst of all, when we indulge in worldliness it demonstrates unfaithfulness to the Lord;
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4
Such friendliness and affection towards the world reckons us at enmity with God. And the habit of worldliness is antithetical to the will of God.
Proving the Will of God Through Transformation
“..but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,…”
The Lord places a lot of importance on our thought lives and so when it comes to our transformation as we saw in the previous point: that as unbelievers we walked in the vanity of our minds; this being the case then it stands to reason that an adjustment in our thinking needs to be made.
In the context of the book of Romans we saw that Paul has taken us through the gospel and other doctrinal matters; now we are moving into the practical applications of our faith: [which is to say] how to “walk in the newness of life”.
In chapter 7 we are given an understanding of the struggle that the believer has with sin, as it continues to dwell with us. Despite being given a new heart [one of flesh and not stone], there are two natures wrestling within us.
In our minds we desire to do what is right.
As Paul’s says:
“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Romans 7:22-23
We MUST also realize this important truth:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
The heart cannot be trusted. It seeks to deceive the mind and so it is the mind which must be transformed and renewed; and the only way [THE ONLY WAY] this can be achieved is through the word of God.
The world would have us trust ourselves and our own limited understanding but the word of God teaches otherwise.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
The ONLY way we will get the Lord’s understanding or perspective is to read and know your bible. His ways are higher than ours…
This is so important because [as we read in Proverbs]: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 16:25
The renewing of our mind is described as a battle and again that battle can only be won if we read and meditate on the word of God.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
We need to recognise thoughts and patterns of thinking; which the bible says “exalt themselves against the knowledge of God’.
We only come to know [and continue to grow in that knowledge] through the bible. And we can only recognize wrong thinking through reading the word of God. In order for us to obey God in our actions we first must obey God in our thought life.
There are many thoughts which on the surface might appear to be harmless but DO in fact exalt themselves above the knowledge of God. And thoughts though they may seem harmless DO have consequences.
We really must take seriously the task of renewing our minds.
Even secular sources recognize the importance of right thinking
“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” Stephen Covey [7 Habits]
Imagine the truth of this when applied spiritually.
Just as Paul compares the transforming of our minds as warfare, he also compares the Christian life to a race; one in which we run in order to win a prize: to run not according to the rules, results in disqualification.
“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1
Besides obvious sin:
There are many who are committed to doing things which they believe are according to the will of God but are [in effect] disqualifying themselves from the prize; instead of building on their foundation with gold, silver and precious jewels they are building with wood, hay and stubble. The simple reason for this is because they DO NOT KNOW what the bible teaches.
He also tells us that this race must be run with purpose [The gospel is central to this purpose]:
“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:” 1 Corinthians 9:25-26
Ultimately the word of God is a roadmap and a guide for every decision you are ever likely to make. But it’s useless having a roadmap unless you are going to read it and put it to use.
“For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:13-14
When it comes to proving the will of God we see that life is made up of a series small decisions that we make every day. If we can’t be faithful in the little things, how can we expect to be faithful in the big things. Yet it is only in the big things that some believers will even consider seeking God for.
There are so many of our decisions in life which are basic; especially if we read our bibles.
And yet the sad reality is that it’s possible to travel through life not even giving thought to the smallest of these. By this I mean “taking counsel of the Lord”
We saw what happened when Joshua failed to do so regarding the Gibeonites in the Book of Joshua. It seemed they knew the word of God better than Joshua since they claimed to have come from a far country and NOT one of the inhabitants of the land.
But if we:
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
We can have confidence…
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.”
I’ve been a Christian for 25 years and [even though I’m standing here] I certainly don’t have it all together. I allowed many things into my life which have proved to be vain and unprofitable. Having the word of God and especially reading the word of God would have saved me from a world of pain.
Nevertheless I praise God because the errors that I have made can be lessons for others.
Underpinning the transformation of our minds, there must be the acknowledgement that his ways are not our ways and that they are higher than our ways. The only way you can even hope to know God’s ways is by reading the bible.
Proving the Will of God Through Perfection:
“that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Goodness and perfection are attributes associated with God’s character and it is as you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord that you can discern the will of God. Therefore as you come to understand the character of God, you automatically discern what God’s will might be in any given circumstance or decision we might make; based on his character [which thanks to the bible, is knowable].
The will of God is good because God is good
The bible presents God as omni-benevolent [all good]. Abraham the father of our faith recognized this when he said in regards to his judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah: “…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25
This has to give us confidence; especially when you consider that “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”.
“All things” applies to the good as well as the bad. And the bible gives us many examples of bad things happening to godly people. The most well known of them is probably the life of Joseph [son of Jacob]
As Joseph’s brothers fear retribution for what they had done, he simply responds:
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20
Recognising God’s hand in his suffering enabled Joseph to forgive his brothers and not be embittered toward them. When you know the whole of Joseph’s story it makes these words quite remarkable.
In light of this, we need to realize that happiness and the pursuit thereof is not the means test for God’s will. Yet there are plenty of deceived individuals that are convinced that as Christians we are immune from anything bad happening to us. The life of Joseph completely contradicts this.
If this was true [that bad things never happen to Christians] these same individuals would never [for example] risk sharing the gospel if it meant ridicule or persecution.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE WAS ALWAYS DESIGNED TO BE SELFLESS
Obeying and following the Lord is often [if not always] inconvenient to what our flesh desires.
This why we must read our bibles. It’s there that we find examples of men and women such as ourselves and are able to learn from their examples.
“For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:3-4
Having this understanding [that the bible was written for our learning] makes it somewhat easier to go through our trials.
The will of God is acceptable and therefore he has no respect of persons
Ephesians gives us the standard on which that acceptability is founded.
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10
As we can see:
Central to discerning what is good and acceptable to God is righteousness and truth [what is our source of infallible truth: the bible].
We have a standard and it is the word of God; this is the standard by which we will be judged by. God isn’t some disinterested by-stander? The same standard applies to all of us and is therefore knowable.
There are things which God accepts and there are things which he clearly does not accept. Sincerity isn’t going to cover our short-comings. It is NOT a game of hit and miss. Are we going to make mistakes? Yes…and it is then that we seek God’s mercy and forgiveness.
When it comes to what is acceptable and what is not we have the perfect example right at the beginning of our bibles:
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” Genesis 4:3-7
In the case of Cain, we understand that he should have known what would and would not have been an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. He should have understood the original sacrifice of innocent blood which covered his parents’ sin.
The will of God is perfect because God is perfect.
The idea that the will of God is perfect immediately gives us an indication of his sovereignty.
Yet at the same time we know that we have a free will and therefore we are accountable; so the will of God shouldn’t be compromised. COMPROMISE IS SIN
We are commanded to be perfect:
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
Whilst we know that we will never be perfect this side of eternity, nevertheless we are to strive for perfection. And that perfecting work is to be achieved through his PERFECT word:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Humility and the recognition of our own imperfections is the starting point of the Lord’s perfecting work in us. And it is God’s word that reveals this to us. As much as we are proving or testing the will of God, he is also proving or testing us…to see what is in our hearts.
In our text today we saw the submission of our bodies to God was in recognition of his ownership of us. We saw the submission of our lifestyle to God as an act of faithfulness to him. We saw the submission of our minds to God is in recognition of our previously reprobate minds. And we saw the recognition of our imperfections in submission to his perfection.
But none of this would matter [of course] if as believers we didn’t intuitively believe that God had a purpose for our lives and that that purpose could only be attained through his grace.
There is no greater joy for the believer than to know that he is following the path that God has laid out for him.
The book of Ephesians points this out:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
But you are only going to see [recognize] God working in your life if you are reading your bibles [substantially]
As you read through your bibles it is worth noting those that triumphed but even more so those that fell; and the reason for so doing. Again: the bible was written for our learning and this is just one area we can learn in as we read through our bibles.
Christ is our example of perfection in regards to the will of God, for this reason we should look unto him as the author and finisher of our faith.
We see during the most difficult periods of his life he submitted to the will of the Father; as one who perfectly fulfilled the will of God:
In the Garden of Gethsemane Christ endured a horrific time contemplating the wrath of the Father which would be poured out on him, for our sakes. And also the separation that he would suffer as the Father turned his face away and forsook him.
This is his response:
“He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” Matthew 26:42
This is mirrored in Psalms:
“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalms 40:7-8
If this was Christ’s response, it should be our delight to do God’s will also.
Let us pray: